Compelled to flee by the Taliban, Fatima Haidari now affords digital excursions of Afghanistan from her new dwelling in Italy — with the proceeds funding secret English courses for ladies there.
From her pupil flatshare in Milan, Haidari leads cyber-tourists across the western Afghan metropolis of Herat, utilizing Zoom to point out them the grand mosque with its glazed tiles, the citadel and the bustling bazaar.
The 24-year-old labored as a tour information in Herat earlier than fleeing when the Taliban took energy in August 2021, and is now learning worldwide politics at Milan’s Bocconi college.
However she stays obsessed with displaying outsiders the great thing about her nation, even when few vacationers at the moment dare go to.
“While you hear about Afghanistan, you consider conflict, terror and bombs,” Haidari informed AFP within the little kitchen she shares with 4 different college students.
“I wish to present the world the great thing about the nation, its tradition and its historical past.”
Organised by British tour operator Untamed Borders, the occasions draw folks from Britain to Australia, Germany and India.
A 3rd of the cash goes in the direction of secret English courses for younger girls again in Afghanistan.
The Taliban have imposed harsh restrictions on girls since returning to energy, together with closing secondary faculties and universities for women and girls.
Haidari herself confronted insults after changing into the primary feminine vacationer information in Afghanistan.
Native non secular leaders accused her of “doing the satan’s work”, notably when accompanying males, whereas boys threw stones at her on the street.
‘The facility of our pens’
Haidari is obsessed with training, after battling her entire life for entry to books.
Rising up within the mountains within the central area of Ghor, the youngest of seven youngsters, her dad and mom made her take care of the sheep.
“I’d take the sheep out to graze by the river the place the boys had faculty and secretly take heed to their classes,” she recalled.
“As I did not have a pen, I’d write within the sand or in clay.”
When she was 10, her impoverished household moved to Herat, the place they may not afford to ship her to highschool.
For 3 years she labored at night time on home-made gadgets comparable to conventional garments, to boost sufficient cash to pay for courses and textual content books.
She managed to steer her dad and mom to permit her to go to school in Herat, the place she started learning journalism in 2019.
“They wished me to develop into an ideal housewife. However I did not wish to comply with the identical path as my two sisters and face an organized marriage,” Haidari mentioned.
In September final yr, she joined round 20 refugee college students welcomed by Bocconi College in Milan.
Carrying a black headband and leather-based gilet, denims tucked into her boots and her laptop computer in a bag on her again, she appears like some other pupil on campus.
However she by no means forgets the plight of ladies again dwelling.
“They’re confined to the home, it’s as if they’re locked in a jail or in a grave the place they’re buried alive,” she mentioned.
Haidari is a member of Afghanistan’s minority Hazara neighborhood, Shiites in a majority Sunni nation who’ve been focused by the Islamic State (IS) group.
When the Taliban arrived, she was warned by the native tour operator she labored for that she is perhaps a goal, and fled.
Leaving Afghanistan was traumatic. At Kabul airport, there have been determined scenes as 1000’s of individuals tried to get a flight out.
“The Taliban have been hitting the gang with Kalashnikovs, bullets have been whizzing by my ears and a younger lady collapsed useless subsequent to me. I assumed I used to be in a horror film, but it surely was actual,” she recalled.
She was unable to get onto flights to the USA and Poland, however bought on a aircraft to Rome.
She nonetheless goals of returning dwelling “to arrange my very own journey company and rent girls as guides”.
However “so long as the Taliban are in Afghanistan, it’s not my dwelling,” she mentioned.
(Aside from the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV workers and is printed from a syndicated feed.)
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